Yesterday the provincial government unveiled the 2016 budget. This budget has a big impact not only on Albertans, but also municipalities across the province. You can find detailed information about the budget by clicking on the Budget 2016 link below:
It has been well documented that low oil prices have had a devastating impact on government revenues. Unfortunately the demand for government investment in municipalities has not gone down, which has left the provincial government in a very difficult position.
Here are some of the highlights of the budget from a City of Calgary perspective:
- Forecasted revenues of $41.6B and expenses of $51.1B;
- Assumes $42/barrel oil in 2016, $54/barrel oil in 2017 and $64/barrel oil in 2018;
- Big investments in affordable and social housing. $892M will be dedicated over 5 years;
- Confirms funding for the SW ring road. Construction is on track to begin in September 2016;
- Revenues from the carbon levy (starting January 1, 2017) will be reinvested in green infrastructure such as transit. This could be good news for the Green Line;
- Transit initiatives saw a reduction from $330M down to $305M. This should not impact future projects.
- The carbon levy will be costly on City of Calgary fleet vehicles. Fuel costs are estimated to increase by $2.6M in 2017 and $4M in 2018. This could have a big impact on Calgarians;
- $4.1B allocated over 5 years for Climate Change, Environmental Protection and Sustainability. Of this:
- $2.2B over 5 years in the Climate Leadership Plan;
- $692M over 5 years for 2013 flood recovery and mitigation;
- $195M over 5 years for municipal water and wastewater;
- $112M over 5 years for provincial water management infrastructure like dams .
Many Calgarians asked me if I was shocked that Green Line funding was not specifically referenced in this budget. Frankly, I’m not surprised, nor am I dismayed. The provincial government has struck a sub-committee to work with The City to sort out how we can make a provincial funding commitment happen. This is a welcomed step forward. I am confident that funding will be sorted out by the end of the year and we will have some promising news to share with the public.
Yesterday CBC Calgary was kind enough to invite me to speak on my thoughts about what this budget means for the Green Line. Some of you may have seen me on their coverage between the NHL playoff games last night. For those of you who were not able to tune in, you can find CBC Calgary’s full budget coverage here:
My segment begins at roughly 21:40.
I would like to see the provincial government come forward and state publicly that they do intend to support the Green Line. We do not require a cheque immediately, but the public would benefit greatly to hear that they intend to give The City the support we need to move this project forward.
If you are worried about the future of the Green Line because of this budget, don’t be. There is a lot of work to be done, and I remain confident that this is a matter of “when” and not “if” the province will step forward as a partner.